Kirkus Reviews QR Code
WE'RE NOT WEIRD by Michael Garland


Structure and Function in the Animal Kingdom

by Michael Garland ; illustrated by Michael Garland

Pub Date: Jan. 3rd, 2023
ISBN: 978-0-8234-5102-9
Publisher: Holiday House

Twenty wild creatures strut distinctive horns, tongues, feet, scales, and other prominent features.

From the hummingbird hawk-moth to the blue-footed booby, the aptly named blobfish to the narwhal and the babirusa, land and sea creatures from various parts of the world pose with strong, boldly textured presence in natural settings in Garland’s digitally colored woodcuts—mostly as single subjects, many chasing or chowing down on favored prey, and two (a male frigatebird and the aforementioned booby) posturing before prospective mates. But if the pictures reward attention, the accompanying commentary generally just singles out one physical feature for each and offers, at best, sketchy explanations of its function. “My large nose keeps out dust and helps me breathe,” says the saiga antelope. (Don’t most noses do that?) “I have large tusks, but I don’t use them for fighting,” says a babirusa, leaving readers in the dark about what they are used for. Similarly unenlightening are opaque follow-up notes, which mention that the Sunda flying lemur “is a cobego and not a lemur” and that jellyfish “are not fish; they are Scyphozoa,” plus a mistaken implication that only male narwhals have tusks. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

The art is something to see, but the perfunctory text reads like an afterthought.

(glossary, bibliography, index) (Informational picture book. 6-8)